2 California Men Sentenced in Kansas Beef Heist

January 27, 2014 08:05 AM

By: ROXANA HEGEMAN, Associated Press

A California man who tried to steal a truckload of beef from a southwest Kansas slaughterhouse was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in federal prison.

Oganes Nagapetian was sentenced to the prison term, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit interstate shipment fraud. His brother, Tigran Nagapetian, received a probationary one-year sentence for the less-serious crime of hiding a felony for lying to authorities and concealing his brother's actions. Both men are from North Hollywood, Calif.

In an unusual twist for a federal case in Kansas, U.S. District Judge Monti Belot allowed Oganes Nagapetian while on supervision in California to continue to use marijuana for a medical purpose, noting such use was legal in that state. Unlawful use of other controlled substances would remain a probation violation, the judge said.

The brothers are accused of trying to steal nearly $88,000 worth of beef from Tyson Fresh Meats in Holcomb by posing as legitimate freight haulers.

Prosecutors have said the case exemplifies a relatively new form of identity theft in which the perpetrators steal the identity of a legitimate trucking company — usually a smaller independent hauler — to obtain freight hauling contracts. The government initially accused the men of stealing the identity of a Pennsylvania freight hauler to get the contract to pick up the meat from the Kansas slaughterhouse, but reached a plea deal in November on the lesser charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson told the judge at the sentencing hearing that the government has not fully gotten to the bottom of what it contends is a sophisticated cargo theft scheme, but agreed that Oganes Nagapetian was not "the brains behind" the operation.

Court documents say the Kansas plan was foiled after a suspicious Ohio freight broker — who had been victimized by a similar scheme a few months earlier — noticed discrepancies in the trucking firm's insurance and called the FBI. At the FBI's request, the broker awarded the hauling bid to the impostors. Law enforcement had them under surveillance when they dropped off a refrigerated truck at the Kansas slaughterhouse for loading.

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